UBD Celebrates 1,211 Graduates
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Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) held its 31st Convocation to celebrate the graduating students of 2019 at UBD's Chancellor Hall which was graced by His Majesty Sultan (Dr) Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam, Chancellor of UBD.

This year saw a total of 1,211 graduates from the seventh batch of UBD's distinctive GenNext programme, with 29 PhD graduates, 199 Master holders, 964 Bachelor graduates as well as 19 Diploma recipients. Graduates of the PhD and Bachelor programmes (Arts and Science) received their certificates during the morning session, while graduates of Masters, Bachelor (Health Science, Engineering and Business) and Diploma programmes received their certificates in the afternoon from His Royal Highness The Crown Prince (Dr) Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and Pro Chancellor of UBD.

Following the convocation ceremony in the Chancellor Hall, His Majesty viewed a special exhibition in front of the Senate Room. There, UBD researchers featured their latest findings. Modified bamboo charcoal was found to be able to remove heavy metals from wastewater in a selective manner hereas those heavy metals could also be recovered from this charcoal to reuse and minimise environmental pollution. Therefore, the main objective of this project was to develop an innovative novel technology to enhance the performance of commercially available charcoal, particularly bamboo charcoal, in order to use them to remove heavy metals in wastewater, which can cause negative impact on our health even in trace quantities.  As the production of bamboo charcoal is a mature industry in many parts of ASEAN, this technology can be easily infused into the existing bamboo charcoal product at the market and hence increase the value of charcoal by many times.

The green synthesis of metal oxides using plant extracts holds many applications for biocompatible, cost effective and simple nanobiotechnology. The as-synthesized metal oxide nanoparticles with a narrowed band gap energy will be able to harvest more visible light. For potential applications where sunlight is used, a greater portion of the light energy can be utilised resulting in a more efficient system. This will be beneficial for improving many applications, such as optoelectronics and water splitting for hydrogen gas generation.

The coupling of Plasmonics and Catalysis to form Plasmonics catalysis technology is capable of driving high energy chemical reactions such as water splitting and in carbon dioxide splitting for the purpose of fuel production. The hydrogen, methane and methanol produced by this method are considered green since no fossil-based sources are used. This makes it a potential game changer in the chemical process industry.

In her opening remarks during the Convocation Ceremony, UBD Vice Chancellor Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Aziz announced that UBD's collaborations in terms of research with industries and international institutions have increased over the years that 60% of the university's papers have been published with international collaborators to date. "This has been achieved through visiting professors from renowned institutions worldwide to UBD," she said. "We have also introduced a new scheme to place our young local academicians into top international universities. The rise in UBD's publications as well as these schemes have contributed to capacity building of our local academics."

With regards to UBD's research profile, UBD has performed 59% higher than the global average according to the Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) which measures research impact. While UBD was categorised as a "Very High Research Intensive" university by QS in September last year, the Vice Chancellor pledged to continue raising the university's research profile in order for it to compete with other top institutions in the international arena. "Greater efforts will be made to publish more high impact research papers," Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina added, highlighting also that UBD has recently introduced five new research clusters; Herbal medicine, Sensor Technology, Catalysis, Tourism, International and Comparative Education.

The Convocation Festival known as Pesta Konvo, in conjunction with the Convocation Ceremony, is a month-long celebration of UBD graduates' success and includes various activities and events. This year's Pesta Konvo was officiated by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince on 15th August 2019. Themed "University of Innovation and Enterprise", a special exhibition held at PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences featured research, innovations and artwork with great potential for enterprise. Innovative creations such as the "Automated Medicine Dispenser", "UBD Digital Herbarium", "FIT iBird" as well as the Chator Asli Brunei and Kain Tenunan apps took centrestage among artistic creations that were on display in Spectacle: Beyond 2019.

Earlier this year, UBD rose 25 spots in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, placing at 298. It now stands among the top 300 universities in the world following positive and consistent performance over the years.

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